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Massive fire destroys St. Augustine business

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Updated: 1/21 7:58 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Massive flames engulfed the auto body and paint shop at Complete Collision in St. Johns County overnight.

On Tuesday afternoon, employees closed the front gate, not knowing when they'll reopen that side of the business. Business owner Riad Chatila spent the afternoon assessing the damage and contacting car owners.

"It was hard. They were happy no one got hurt and they understood that it’s out of our hands and it happened," said Chatila.

The Florida State Fire Marshal's Office said the case is unique because although the fire doesn't look suspicious, all of the accelerants used in an arson are present. St. Johns County Fire Rescue Lt. Robby Stevenson said that’s why the fire took about 20 firefighters an hour to extinguish the flames.

"So we know those materials are on site. Certainly those can contribute to a quick fire spread and a hot-burning, fast-moving fire when those objects become involved," said Stevenson.

Chatila said it’s tough to look at the charred remains of his business, but hopes to rebuild or relocate.

"We have to wait until the insurance send their people here to look at the site and we'll take it from there," said Chatila.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue estimated the fire caused more than $100,000 in damage.
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